Philadelphia retained five players from its stunning six-game series win against the Penguins six years ago, led by captain Claude Giroux, but there was no veteran assistance for all the playoff newcomers wearing orange and white.
Sure, it may seem like there’s a better chance of Crosby getting lost on his drive to PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh than the Flyers returning to Philly with a victory but the scenario is not as far-fetched as you may believe. Despite losing at home in Game 1, the Predators stormed back before losing in Denver; and finally taking the series in Music City with two straight wins. No matter how lopsided the result it was, in Crosby’s words, “one game”. “Whether it’s 7-0 or 1-0 or double overtime, it’s one game”. Teams going into the playoffs with little momentum, tend to struggle and if the Lightning can’t get off to a hot start, their playoff run may be short lived.
That might be a frightening proposition for the rest of the National Hockey League. They have captured three President’s Trophies along the way, courtesy of tallying the highest point total during the regular season, but have yet to make their first conference finals appearance since 1998 when they won the Eastern Conference. The over is 7-0 in the last seven Pittsburgh games playing on one day of rest. So there he was on the afternoon of Game 1, recalling how to give pat answers to the same old questions. The Flyers fourth liner was on the receiving end of a fine feed by Jori Lehtera, but Murray dived across the crease to keep Laughton’s along-the-ice shot out with the bottom edge of his glove.
The Flyers’ Brian Elliott was so lucky. Even with star player Steven Stamkos injured, the Lightning are still really good offensively with Nikita Kucherov who got 100 points during the regular season, as well as J.T. Miller, Brayden Point, Tyler Johnson and others.
“We just had too many holes and if you have holes in your game, that team is going to drive a truck through them”, Hakstol said. “Everybody just has to be better”. He was replaced by Petr Mrazek in the second period after Sidney Crosby scored Pittsburgh’s fifth goal.
The Flyers just need to improve in some – OK, tons – of areas.
The Penguins jumped on Philadelphia early.
But it still leaves Hakstol with a big decision for Friday’s game.
The Winnipeg Jets, from the second spot in the Central division in the Western Conference, will face the Minnesota Wild who earned the third spot in the Central Division. “If we go home 1-1, we’ll be pretty happy with that”.
Moments later, Hagelin expertly redirected Patric Hornqvist’s shot past Elliott 10:07 into the game.
It appears Philadelphia wasn’t quite ready for the back-to-back champs in the opening game of their series on Wednesday, as the Penguins came out of the gate hot and thumped the Flyers 7-0.
The two-time MVP has a knack for scoring in unorthodox ways. Though he has a strong 1.98 career GAA in the playoffs, he is 2-5-1 against Pittsburgh since the 2012-13 season.
That was Crosby’s first of three goals on the night, and he needed only four shots to complete the hat trick. My Rangers, after a decade of being very good, culminating with those terrible, vomit inducing-literally OT losses to the Kings in the Finals (seriously, I puked multiple times during game 2 and 3 due to anxiety), fell apart this year and basically sold off the core of those teams minus Lundqvist. Rust is one of Pittsburgh’s depth players who contributes constantly.